Police: Two Arrested For Assault On Officers During Animal Welfare Check; Dog Doing Okay

From left: James Rowe, Justin Pratt (Credit: Fremont County Sheriff's Office)

An officer responding to a possible animal cruelty case says two men were arrested after the situation escalated.

As temperatures fell into single digits Wednesday, two Canon City police officers were asked to check up on a small dog that had been left out in the cold. A neighbor told police the dog was sitting on a leash outside its owner's home, crying because it was so cold.

Officer Stephanie Cabassa said that when she got to 609 N. Greydene, the dog was shivering inside a filthy, snow-filled doghouse.

"I saw a small black dog...in a small, plastic, uninsulated, open doghouse with no bed or blanket ... The dog had frozen water in its bowl," Cabassa wrote in an arrest affidavit obtained by 11 News.

But when she and her partner, Sgt. Ray, knocked on the owner's door, he refused to bring his dog inside, reportedly telling the officers it was legal to leave him out, he could do what he wanted with his dog, and his dog was used to being outside and fine with it.

In the arrest affidavit, Cabassa said the owner, identified as 35-year-old James Rowe, became irate after Ray explained that keeping the dog outside in 8 degree temperatures was animal abuse. After yelling at the officers to leave, police say the owner blew up when asked "for the umpteenth time" to show his ID.

"The male began to scream obscenities at Sgt. Ray," the affidavit says," ...Sgt. Ray told the male that he was obstructing and that we would have to take him to jail if he did not comply."

During this time, the affidavit says that Rowe "attempted to bring the dog inside...the dog had its tail down and was visibly afraid of the owner."

Police say Rowe's wife was pleading with him to cooperate, and allowed the officers to come inside. Cabassa said in the affidavit that Rowe once again exploded, and Ray tried to arrest him. Rowe then started to fight Ray off.

"Sgt. Ray and the male began to wrestle on the couch. The male continued to resist for what seemed like three minutes."

During the fight, Cabassa said two men came to assist their friend. One of the men, identified as 21-year-old Justin Pratt, allegedly refused to leave when ordered to; Cabassa said he slammed a door into her face when she initially thought he'd left, then stared her down.

The commotion drew other neighbors outside, and Cabassa said that she and Ray led Rowe past a large crowd as they took him to the patrol car. She said she saw Pratt in the crowd and told him not to repeat his behavior in the future.

"[Pratt] started stating that we beat his friend, were too aggressive and that we were pigs."

Based on his earlier behavior, the officers decided to arrest Pratt for obstruction. The arrest affidavit says Pratt ran into his home, and blew up when the officers followed him inside. Like Rowe, the affidavit goes on to detail how Pratt tried resisting arrest, at one point raising a fist at one of the officers, though not striking him. It took three officers to get him under control before Pratt was arrested.

Both men face several charges, including second-degree assault on a police officer.

Police say the dog is doing fine; police allowed it to stay with its owners Wednesday night, but sent animal control to check on the dog Friday morning. Police told 11 News the dog was inside and in good health when animal control showed up.